In a time of fast life, where deadlines and quantity are often more important than quality, there are those who wisely guard the importance of perseverance and sacrificial, long-lasting work. Luthier art is not something we encounter every day. It is a kind of science from which the most beautiful sounds come. Handmade violins and other string instruments have a special value. Each instrument bears the signature of its master. What is the signature of Arda Bahadir? The title is only somewhat the answer to this question. This is a story about instruments, generosity, and trust.
"I'm just helping to a piece of wood to become a violin," says Arda.
In his workshop, which he placed in a room of a rented apartment in North Mitrovica, where he lives with his wife, Arda patiently discusses the process of making string instruments. His story begins more than a decade ago at Zonguldak Bülent Ecevit University. He had no idea that several years later he would move his workshop out of love for a girl from Mitrovica.
Let's go back to his professional development. He is the first student to complete the studies of making instruments from the violin family.
"My story started just like that, but it didn't end there. I have to make improvements and do research all the time. It's like a science, which involves the use of mathematics, chemistry, physics. Making a violin also depends on the weather," adds our interviewee.
This is just an introduction to what luthier art means.
Selection of wood, natural drying, cutting of parts in a certain way and according to the mold, chiseling, glue and joining of parts, preparation of varnish that is organic, varnishing ...
"Maple and spruce are used. All instruments from the violin family are made of the same wood, that's the standard, the evolution of these instruments is completed. The background of the violin, ribs, and neck are made of maple. Spruce makes the upper part as well as the ‘heart’ of the violin. That is a small piece of wood which separates the back and front part of the violin. It is very important that it is placed precisely because of the sound," explains Arda.
All dimensions of the violin must be in accordance with the so-called "golden ratio". Essentially all violins are the same in size, but the masters always add their signature.
"I can make ten violins of the same size, but each of them will sound differently. That's the signature. The changes in the sound also depend on the climate in which the tree from which the violin was made grew, for example, whether it was rainy then or very dry. It's like life. Emotions, mood, body reaction are related to what you do because this is art. This is the story of the tree, but also my story," he adds.
That is why for Arda every part of the process of making a violin is special: "The greatest satisfaction is the result. The process from a piece of wood to someone playing an instrument is what is most beautiful."
He inscribes effort and love for his work into each of his instruments, but into his relationship with musicians also. Proof of that is the fact that in a short time he established cooperation with musicians from Pristina, Prizren, Belgrade, Northern Macedonia…
On his Instagram profile you can see how the famous Serbian violinist Vladimir Koh, as well as the professional violinist Visar Kuqi - are testing his new violins. Apart from the fact that his violins reached the hands of the grandmasters, he restores the instruments also. It is a bit unusual that the language barrier is not a problem for their communication.
"Still we manage to communicate because they understand that I have the knowledge about the instruments. They trust me. It is not that I am just repairing instruments, I explain everything I can and I'm honest. I'm honest in what I know," Arda explains how mutual trust was built.
Finally, the recipe for trust can be what our interviewee said about his new friends and Mitrovica residents:
"Relationships are sincere, they are good friends. Respect. Respect is very important to me. Regardless of the nation, religion, it is important that we respect each other and everything will be fine."
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This project is supported by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and is implemented by the New Social Initiative. Expressed opinions represent the authors’ views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, UNMIK or New Social Initiative.